By Stephen Schenck | September 12, 2012 1:16 PM
After months of rumors, leaks, and a whole lot of speculation, Apple just made the iPhone 5 official.
Apple calls it the thinnest and lightest iPhone to date, constructed out of glass and aluminum. Sure enough, Apple’s stepping up to a larger, more widescreen display, implementing a four-inch screen with an 1136 x 640 resolution. The company’s own apps are already getting updated to support the new aspect ratio, and legacy apps that haven’t yet been reconfigured for the new screen shape will appear centered, surrounded by black borders.
The new screen should look better than ever, with what Apple claims to be a 44% improvement in color saturation over the previous generation iPhone. There’s also the on-panel integrated touch sensor we heard about, resulting in a thinner, clearer screen.
We had heard that this iPhone would mark the arrival of LTE for the series, and Apple didn’t disappoint; in addition to HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA, there’s finally an LTE radio.
The new A6 processor is supposed to be twice as fast as the A5, with a comparable increase in graphics performance, as well. From launching apps to opening files, everything’s supposed to take roughly half as much time as on the iPhone 4S.
Even with the addition of LTE, Apple says that the iPhone 5 won’t just keep the same battery life as the iPhone 4S, but should actually run slightly longer on each charge.
The iPhone 5′s new camera gets several improvements, from a five-element lens with sapphire crystal, to a dynamic low light mode. It’s still an eight-megapixel back-side illuminated sensor like the previous iPhone, but the whole assembly’s 25% smaller. Enhanced signal processing techniques with the A6 should mean even further increases in picture quality. Ultimately, photo-taking could be up to 40% faster. There’s also software in place to give the iPhone’s camera new abilities, like a seamless panorama mode.
The phone gets some audio improvements, as well, now with three microphones for enhanced voice sensitivity. There’s also new, smaller speakers, as well as a noise-canceling earpiece. All this audio gear will work alongside software for wideband voice calls, with 20 carriers already signed-up to support it.
Indeed, Apple’s ditching the 30-pin connector for a tiny 8-pin version, called Lightning. It’s dual-sided to make it reversible, and Apple will be selling Lightning adapters to use existing 30-pin accessories with the iPhone 5.
Of course, the iPhone 5 isn’t just about the hardware, as it will also usher-in the arrival of iOS 6. The new release will introduce things like Apple’s new Maps with its 3D imagery, fullscreen mode for Safari, and browser tab syncing over the cloud. There’s the new Passbook app we’ve heard about, but Apple has still yet to mention anything about NFC support, making it seem like the rumored hardware didn’t make the cut.
Siri gets some enhancements of its own, giving out movie recommendations and helping you post updates to your Facebook wall.
Apple will release the new iPhone 5 in its standard black and white color options.
As for storage options, there’s no new 8GB size, just the regular 16GB, 32GB, and 64GB capacities. Those will run $199, $299, and $399, respectively, all on-contract. The iPhone 4S drops to just $99 for its 16GB version, while the iPhone 4 will be free-on-contract for 8GB.
Pre-orders for the iPhone 5 open this Friday, and the handsets will ship on September 21 for Apple’s launch countries. Additional nations will get access to the iPhone 5 on September 28.